Hello everyone. Following in the footsteps of Chubbyrain, I thought I'd post a deck that I have been playing with recently that draws upon several notable sources to form something I have had moderate success with in paper (as I dont play MODO).

The inspiration for this deck is two-fold:

  1. It was conceived as a test run of the Reid Duke "Bob's Revenge" deck at VSL finals this year, which was geared to beat Shops.
  2. A look at a blue control shell which abstains from card disadvantage in the form of Force of Will. Brian Kelly espousing the view, perhaps partially in jest, frequently on his stream.

Upon lamenting on several things that Brian Kelly, Stephen Menendian and others have suggested in their streams, I thought to look at several specific angles that are rarely tried in my meta.

Below is how I view the deck when putting it together.

Mana (24 Total):
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Badlands
1 Bayou
2 Bloodstained Mire
4 Polluted Delta
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Strip Mine
1 Taiga
1 Tropical Island
3 Underground Sea
2 Volcanic Island
2 Wasteland

Creatures Mana (Total 3) :
3 Deathrite Shaman

Creatures Card Advantage (Total 9):
4 Dark Confidant
1 Dire Fleet Daredevil
3 Leovold, Emissary of Trest
1 Snapcaster Mage

Library Manipulation/Filtration (Total 6)
1 Ramunap Excavator
1 Sylvan Library
1 Brainstorm
1 Ponder
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Time Walk

Spells Cards Advantage (Total 4)
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Kolaghan's Command
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Disruption (Total 14)
2 Pyroblast
3 Thoughtseize
2 Null Rod
4 Mental Misstep
3 Lightning Bolt

Sideboard (Situational Answers for Specific Decks):

Dredge/Oath (Total 7)
4 Grafdigger's Cage
3 Yixlid Jailer

Shops (Total 3/6)
3 Ancient Grudge

Blue Control (Total 1)
1 Thrun, the Last Troll

Blue Combo (Total 2)
2 Flusterstorm

Flexible Slots (2)
Either Abrupt Decay/Ravenous Trap/Null Rod

Specific Cards and why they're chosen:

Dark Confidant although the format has seen an uptick in Swords to Plowshares as an answer to creatures, the restriction of Thorn as also seen the demise of Eldrazi variants. Most blue decks rely heavily or Pyroblast to deal with recursive card drawing and/or are prepared for spell based card drawing (blue cantrips, black dmg cantrips). Even drawing a single spell ultimately 2for1s your opponent, which fits the theme of the deck.

Leovold as most know, powerful when resolved but struggles in a Pyroblast heavy meta, however if on the board fundamentally operates as a 2for1 when removed and therefore is included. Paradoxical and other decks that eschew removal for speed, tend to get hampered by Null Rod to being with, and then backbroken by a resolved Leo.

Snapcaster and Daredevil Snapcaster is primarily used to flash back Thoughtseize (and of course Ancestral) and is a known quantity, however Daredevil usually focuses on taking opponents Preordains/Ponders and other sorcery based cantrips. 2:1 first strike deals very well with tokens. The red casting cost is a slight disadvantage, but the fact that it does not need to pitch to FoW allows it a smoother role in this deck.

Ramunap Excavator Obviously included as a land recursion/destruction engine, but also doubles up as a filtration card with fetch land shuffling. Brian Kelly also suggested in one of his streams that it could be used as a Sylvan Library enabler through shuffling, and I tend to agree.

Sylvan Library Primary focuses on being Dark Confidant number 5, however can be utilised as a pseudo-top to filter cards when life is low and Confidant is in play. Furthermore being (G) helps with dodging Pyroblast. Due to Confidant vying for the same precious life resource, this card is not an automatic -8 life like in most decks.

Kolaghan's Command All three modes 2for1 opponents, although with Swords to Plowshares the main removal in the format the returning of creatures is less prevalent than perhaps in Modern/Legacy.

Null Rod As the meta has shifted from classic storm (dark ritual based) towards Paradoxical Variety this cards seems ideal for the meta.

Pyroblast is in the deck to fight FoW on the stack and to limit Blue Planeswalkers dominance. It performs a double duty of being able to battle on the stack or agains permanents.

What cards are not included:

Force of Will I have always thought that BUG decks and 4C decks are more akin to Jund in Modern/Legacy with restricted draw spells baked in to the shell. The role of the deck is to fight either draw spells on the stack (of which the majority are (U)) or fight permanents 'on the ground'. Heavy removal suite is intended to 1for1 whilst the decks own permanents 2for1 (Confidant, Sylvan, Snap, Daredevil, Leo). The biggest challenge of course is turn one combo; however empirical evidence has shown that the blowout turn ones (Necropotance, Mentor, Tinker etc) have seen less play with respective bannings and the reduction in storm (3% of meta).

Abrupt Decay Primarily used to combat Game 2 Oath, however with the advancements that Brian Kelly et al have been making in the 'castability' of threats, the removal of an Oath may not be as fundamental as in previous Grisel heavy metas. Most success vs oath is to be had when Orchard is in play and tapping gives you cards with Leo in play.

Treasure Cruise/Dig Through Time the obvious dyssynergy with Dark Confidant is too high a risk, particularly Game 1 shops.

Dack the lack of inclusion of Dack is primarily due to the fact that this type of deck is attempting to limit the use of artifacts through Null Rod and Ancient Grudge. This is even more true in the Reid Duke versions which has a further two Null Rods in the flex spots on the sideboard. Once again, Brian Kelly recently suggested that the current metagame is 'all about' who steals who's artifacts. Fundamentally this deck is limiting the potential for your opponents to 2for1 you through Null Rods and Leovolds. Thus, moxes are usually only played in to an open board to facilitate a backbreaking Confidant turn 1, or vs Shops.

Ob Nixilis Reignited perhaps the most interesting card as a Confidant/Sylvan Library replacement, with a baked in win condition vs most blue decks via the ultimate. Nevertheless too expensive to cast without sol ring/mana crypt and the active plan of limiting mana through Null Rod.

Specific Matchups

Shops In the 4 Null Rod, 3 Ancient Grudge version the shops matchup is the epitomy of 2for1 vs the opponent. Each card is intended as an efficient a threat as possible. Ramunap can provide relief from mana denial which is bolstered by Deathrite. Personal experience has shown that cutting Null Rods to 2 can be paradoxically beneficial vs shops and counterproductive vs Paradoxical Outcome. The two flex spots in the SB are specific tuning for the meta.

Dredge Game 1 is a bye for them. Personal experience has shown that Jailer is hard to remove post board for Dredge as it dodges misstep. A lack of 0 mana interaction is worrisome, and perhaps should be 2x Ravenous Trap.

Landstill Thrun is quite the beating, as only Supreme Verdict removes him (Balance is rarely played nowadays with the restriction of Mentor). A total of 5 green mana sources in the deck (and 3 deathrites) usually prove good enough, however I would rarely cast it in to open double (U) for Mindbreak Trap, or pass without 1(G) in to Supreme Verdicts.

Blue Control Fundamentally the Jundesque strategy is the real winner. The concept is to play recursive card advantage permanent threats in non-blue colours to strand Pyroblasts and Flusters etc in hand, whilst slowly 2for1ing until landing a Leo or Jace.

Oath perhaps the most intriguing and fundamentally flawed matchup agains any creature based control decks. Oath being off colour for pyroblast means that it cannot be effectively removed from play without the inclusion of abrupt decay (which is one of three options for the SB (2 Ravenous Trap/2 Null Rod/2 Abrupt Decay being the usual changes). However heavy artifact disruption can stymie their mana development if the 'casting of creatures' plan is adopted post board. It is most definitely correct to Ancient Grudge lotuses and Null Rod early.

Game 1 you are ultimately hoping to 2for1 and are an underdog.
Game 2 the plan most revolves around whether your reading of the game suggests that the opponent is attempting to cast creatures vs oath them in. Artifact removal attempts to dissuade the casting and graffdiggers the latter option.
Game 3 is once again a mingame.


With the ubiquity of Force of Will as a pillar of blue, the threat of the spell forces opponents to miscalculate their timing of action. This deck attempts to eschew it by:

a) fighting permanents on the ground, through instant based removal.
b) fight card drawing on the stack through 0 or 1 mana counter spells.
c) fight 'off the stack' (in opponents hand) with thoughtseize.

What this deck is not; is a turbo xerox approach. A land light hand on turn 1 without a Sylvan/Confidant usually means poor draws for the rest of the game. Thoughtseize on 1 is almost always correct to Deathrite on 1, as the incremental damage/life gain is more important long term than powering out a turn two Leo.

Hopefully this review and primer has been helpful and elucidates some of my thinking on the complexities of Forceless decks and how the exclusion of a powerful format staple can facilitate a rethinking of an archetype.

I welcome all suggestions.


last edited by Guest

@nba84 An interesting list. Thank you for taking the time to put together this write-up. Can you tell us a bit more about your metagame (since you say you don't play on MTGO)? It's always easier to process decks when you know the context in which they are played.

Loved this writeup. I've played a few matches with the deck. Do you have any remarks on how to handle the Paradoxical combo matchup (aside from Null Rod and crossing fingers)? What about ritual-based storm?

I feel like this list wants Baby Jace in a bad way to compliment Thoughtseize. Planning to brew a variant of this for my next league entry (only 1 loss with my current deck away!). At a hasty glance, I would probably cut Sylvan, Daredevil and the 4th BOB for 3 Baby Jace and possibly mess with the mana base a little.

@chubbyrain Well I think it mimics the online meta to a certain extent, with the predominant decks being Shops variants. Oath is somewhat less prevalent than the flavour of the month varieties online. The best way I would summarise the meta here (Japan) would be very similar to pre-Eternal Weekend 2017, yet post Mentor.

What I am trying to say is that Shops reigns supreme.

@nucleosynth null rod and ancient grudge + prayer for Game 1 vs paradoxical. The 4 shamans + moxen usually means a turn two Null Rod with Pyro/Misstep/Fluster back up. Once turn 3/4 comes around Leo+Discard becomes real against them.

I believe that vs those types of decks, the opponents fear of a FoW tends to make them delay going off by a turn which can mean Thoughtseize+Threat.

To be honest, ritual based storm is very underplayed at the moment.

@p3temangus Baby Jace's only downfall is being a blue permanent, thus turning on Pyroblasts (on non-Leo, non-Jace). Baby Jace is not card advantage upon resolution, and thus im weary of playing him.

However you could very well be right.

last edited by Guest

Just proxied up this list! Seems like a lot of fun. I was playing with something similar with Kess in the spot for Dire Fleet Daredevil. I liked her a lot but she cost four and usually got hit by pyroblast's in a vintage event I played in every time I cast her. If she stuck to the board it was amazing!

@bscheidemann kess is interesting. I haven't considered here to be frank. Will definitely remedy that. @Brass-Man i remember you played her at champs. Do you feel she would fit a shell like this?

@nba84 I'd say the list already has a lot of the key bits that I found were important for making Kess work: the Demonic Tutor -> Time Walk chain, cheap good-on-your-turn disruption like Thoughtseize and Lightning Bolt, and maxed-out Mental Misstep for defending her from enemy Pyroblast and Swords to Plowshares.

Having more free-or-cheap draw like Gitaxian Probe, Gush, and Preordain would be even better, but not strictly necessary.

The only open question I don't have any idea on is "can you cast it consistently." Deathrite Shaman should go a long way there, but a 4-color decklist with 3 colorless lands seems like it could be trouble. You'd have a much better idea than me as to how castable 1URB is in this deck.

last edited by Brass Man

@ChubbyRain I saw you play a similar deck to this on your Twitch the other night Matt. Seemed you were enjoying it and were having quite a bit of success.

I suppose my main comment relates to lack of null rods. Brave thing to do, as I find them to be the only card able to compete with ParadoxStorm.

Let me know your thoughts.

Played this deck last night against White Eldrazi and went 2-3. Found that I usually ended up way behind if I didn't have a thoughtsieze or bob in my opening hand. I run 2 abrupt decay in my sideboard but might up that number since I'm not sure what to do about reality smasher, and thought-knot seer.

Usually the games I won I was looking to stabilize by turn 3-4 and at pretty low health, but using drs and mana denial on his board was the best way to come back.

What decks have you played so far with this set up so far and what are your thoughts?

@bscheidemann this deck is not tuned at all towards white eldrazi, as it does not have a representation in the meta.

Having said that, the games I've played on cockatrice vs @Stormanimagus and others that play humans variant, albeit a different beast, relies on dark confidants drawing a few cards and bolts getting rid of thalias.

Any non blue deck is ultimately about attrition and two for ones. That's where kcommand and grudge shine.

Like any vintage deck, you have to tune for the meta. The meta that this deck tries to attack is a shops/big-blue deck axis.

If you do find a silver bullet for eldrazi, please do share.


@nba84 said in 4C Forceless Control:

@bscheidemann this deck is not tuned at all towards white eldrazi, as it does not have a representation in the meta.

Having said that, the games I've played on cockatrice vs @Stormanimagus and others that play humans variant, albeit a different beast, relies on dark confidants drawing a few cards and bolts getting rid of thalias.

Any non blue deck is ultimately about attrition and two for ones. That's where kcommand and grudge shine.

Like any vintage deck, you have to tune for the meta. The meta that this deck tries to attack is a shops/big-blue deck axis.

If you do find a silver bullet for eldrazi, please do share.


We had success with Kefnet the Mindful v. Eldrazi specifically. If Eldrazi ever comes back, maybe try Ophiomancer?


I'm not sure if I missed something, but I don't see Bitterblossom as helpful against. Eldrazi. How do you figure?

IF Eldrazi were to make an emergence back into the format, I would just use baleful strix.

I would also add Glissa The Traitor if we are talking strictly an on-color anti aggro card.

I only bring up white eldrazi because the local meta in Austin, TX had a few white eldrazi decks in the top 8 of the last tournament. I like adding baleful in.

last edited by bscheidemann

Hi all. Reid Duke posted a list and played a few rounds with a deck quite similar to the original one posted here:


Differences Reid's deck mainboard:
-1 Lightning Bolt
-1 Dire Fleet Daredevil
-1 Sylvan Library (which I think is a momentous mistake)
-1 BOB

+1 JVP
+1 DRS
+1 Kolaghans Command
+1 Ancient Grudge

The sideboards differ considerably, as they should, since the meta has shifted heavily since February when the above deck was invented. Conspicuously Reid's board eschews GY hate for further artifact hate in the shape of Null Rods and creature hate with Fatal Pushes.

Please note that there is a grave deckbuilding faux pas with a singleton Mountain in the SB yet Polluted Deltas as the 4-offs in the mainboard.

Personally, I don't believe that this deck is currently as well positioned as in January/February, partially due to the fact that it was constructed to beat Workshop based decks through attrition (rather than speed), whilst holding the Jeskai decks at bay through taxing their cantrips through Pyroblast/Mental Misstep.

As the meta has pivoted heavily towards Paradoxical Outcome based decks, the speed of the format has somewhat increased.

If I were to pick this deck up again, my major changes to both my own deck and Reid's would be a bigger focus on storm decks through Mindbreak Traps in the SB.

All the best,

@nba84 I think this just goes to prove that the format isn't Fow vs Shops vs Combo. I play survival salad and I think once/if Outcome gets restricted decks decks like this will shine. That being said I played against a version of this today with me being on Survival Salad and had a much harder time vs this than regular Fow Leo decks. Your card's grinded better and it was nearly impossible to get advantage through your kill spells unlike at 2 for 1 with force.

@p3temangus I like glissa a ton. I played her in Jund Traverse in modern for eldrazi decks or anything with little removal and she is insane. Unlike balefu she doesn;t have CA but I guess not dying to pyroblast has some utility vs blue right?
I imagine her vs shops being very good in conjunction with null rod shutting down ballista and very good vs the other leo decks goyfs. Better than stix as she could block multiple times tho if they don't attack into strix that is irrelevant.

Edit: Basic land may not be a faux pas; I have played "budget" UR delver with delta's in place of tarns and still ran a basic mountain as drawing it was still very good vs shops.

last edited by bleedth3sky

(Leovold is sometimes countered by rebs and then is just a 1-1, so maybe you need a cavern)

last edited by YakuzaXRock
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